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Sylvan - One to Zero CD (album) cover





4.06 | 164 ratings

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5 stars "One To Zero", an album to listen to in peace and quiet, in moments of reflection and self-care, paradoxically dealing with a story from which you would not expect such deep topics but which are treated with such a human approach that it becomes something unexpected and fundamental. So let's see what it's all about.

"One To Zero" is a concept album, and already when we read this statement we Prog fans look at it with different eyes and are overcome with enthusiasm. Even more so when we hear the interesting premise: detailing the autobiography of an Artificial Intelligence from its own perspective. A rather intriguing concept that is developed very loosely and makes us want to dive right into the story. Things kick off with "Bit by Bit" (a rather ingenious name considering the theme of the album), where the peculiar creation of this algorithm is narrated, a sort of computer genesis, while musically we travel through familiar terrain that fills us with joy. An accessible yet complex melodic prog with a crystalline and pristine sound, it's nice when an album sounds really good.

"Encoded at Heart" tells us how this intelligence has the task of saving the environment by repairing everything that humanity has destroyed, a rather risky and complex mission. The song begins guided by a subtle piano and a powerful bass and drums base that leaves us perplexed, always adorned with Marco Glühmann's melancholic vocals, which explode in a totally emotional and mobilising chorus. A mid-tempo song in the character of a power ballad, something Sylvan are already known to excel at. In "Start Your Life", the AI is processing itself, guided by an eternal feeling of constant optimisation. Musically we are met with a more straightforward, electronic-tinged Rock that has us shaking our heads and feet in unison, enjoying a short and exciting number.

"Unleashed Power" tells of the algorithm's coming of age, beautifully symbolised by a solemn and heartbreaking lead piano ballad, with a mesmerising and heartfelt vocal performance. Slowly developing but very enjoyable, it invites us to immerse ourselves totally in its atmosphere. In "Trust Yourself" there is a radical change in the story, and therefore also in the musical proposal, with electronic elements coming to the forefront, reminding us of some recent incursions of Steven Wilson in the "Hand.Cannot.Erase." stage, with a song as intriguing and strange as it is direct and predictable in its chorus. A somewhat disconcerting exercise but one that ends up working in a great way.

The story continues with "On My Odyssey", an exercise that starts off quite minimalistic and takes me back to some iconic Ayreon moments in its atmosphere. It builds to a climax both sonically and plot-wise, where the AI finally turns to its creator to pose various questions. It all builds up to the epic "Part of Me", with its 9-minute long and extensive developments into imperfectly perfect climaxes, electronic beats and digitally conveyed emotions. Artificial intelligence is realising its vast superiority over the human race. It is one of the most powerful songs on the album, which then becomes heavy and reflects the anger that our protagonist is feeling, and then ends in a calm and exciting way with a heartfelt guitar solo that makes us shudder.

Our AI realises that it has the potential to be the leader of humanity, shown with choral arrangements and subtle electronic bits in the intimate and brief ballad "Worlds Apart", arriving then to the infectious "Go Viral", where you can understand why they chose this piece to officiate as a single, it shows a versatile and catchy side of the quintet, where the electronic arrangements provide a base for a rocking guitars at the forefront. AI reigns supreme and develops a conscience given its high degree of destructiveness. "No, this is not the way...", the machine laments. A song that in a just world should, ironically, go viral.

The finale comes in the form of "Not A Goodbye", another epic 10-minute piece where we realise that humanity does not deserve the qualities of this powerful AI. Beginning in an enigmatic and ominous way with piano and dark atmospheres, the song develops with solemn moments and a relaxing cadence that progresses in intensity until it explodes in that climax we've been waiting for and doesn't disappoint, impregnating drama and melancholic virtue. "It is not suicide, but only the beginning of a new cycle of life". So says our beloved algorithm as it concludes that humanity is not ready for its virtues.

With "One To Zero", we can say that Sylvan has made a solid return to the front page of Neo-Progressive Rock, imbuing their exquisite musical proposal with emotionality, dramatism and warmth. Here you won't find excessive virtuosity or a thousand notes per second, but the most melancholic and grandiloquent expression of a band that works from the shadows but when it comes out, we all get excited. Putting melancholy and drama into a story whose protagonist is an Artificial Intelligence is no easy task, but Sylvan comes out on top with a superb album that can be enjoyed in any environment while we wait for the machines to take over the world.

setortos12 | 5/5 |


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